Party Executive Backs Nomination
Steinmeier Urges SPD to Unite
Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged his divided Social Democrats to unite on Monday after the party's executive voted unanmously to nominate him as the SPD candidate for the chancellorship in the 2009 election. A special party conference has been called for Oct. 18 to approve the nomination.
German Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeierappealed to his divided Social Democrats to unite ahead of next year's election after the party's executive board voted unanimously to nominate him as the SPD candidate for the chancellorship at a meeting on Monday.
"We must now show unity and start the necessary catch-up race ahead of the 2009 election. It will be possible and today I received a lot of support from the party executive," Steinmeier told a news conference following a special meeting of the 45-member executive.
The executive also nominated Franz Müntefering to succeed Kurt Beck as the SPD's chairman after Beck
quit on Sunday in disgust at what he called "deliberate misinformation" that had led to distorted media reports about how Steinmeier's nomination for the chancellorship had been decided.
Beck's surprise departure at a conference of SPD leaders on Sunday followed months of media criticism of his leadership and sniping at him from within the party, which is reeling from a steep slide in opinion polls.
A special party conference has been convened for Oct. 18 in Berlin to approve Steinmeier's and Müntefering's appointments, which were announced on Sunday, marking a complete overhaul of the party's leadership.
"I'm pleased that my candidacy for the next election was unanimously accepted by the party executive," Steinmeier said. He said his job as chief of staff to former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had given him a deep knowledge of the chancellery and that he was determined to win the election.
"I appealed to the party executive now to show unity and discipline," said Steinmeier. He said that he and Beck had decided weeks ago that Steinmeier should be the candidate for chancellor.
Earlier, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the circumstances that had led to Beck's departure were "unworthy of a major party" and were an indication of the deep divisions in the SPD. "I hope this can now be overcome," Merkel told reporters.
She said Steinmeier's nomination would not affect their cooperation in government, where Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and Steinmeier's SPD share power in a grand coalition.